RF-MEMS: An Itinerary through Multiphysics Modelling, Simulation and Design Development of High-Performance Radio Frequency/Millimeter-Wave Passives Aiming at Future Market Exploitations


Dr. Jacopo Iannacci, FBK, Italy:

Jacopo Iannacci is Researcher in MEMS technology with the Center for Materials and Microsystems (CMM) at Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) in Trento, Italy, since 2007. His scientific focuses are on (compact) modelling, design, optimization, integration, packaging and testing for reliability of RF-MEMS (Radio Frequency MicroElectroMechanical-Systems) passive devices/networks, EH-MEMS (Energy Harvesting MEMS), as well as SA-MEMS (MEMS Sensors and Actuators).

He received the MSc Degree in Electronic Engineering (2003) from the University of Bologna, Italy, and the PhD in Information Technology (2007) from the ARCES Center of Excellence at the University of Bologna, Italy, with focus on mixed-domain simulation and hybrid wafer-level packaging of RF-MEMS devices for wireless applications.
In 2005 and 2006, Jacopo Iannacci worked as Visiting Researcher at the DIMES Technology Center of the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands, where he focused on development of packaging and integration solutions for RF-MEMS devices. In 2016, he visited the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin, Germany, as Seconded Researcher, studying the integration of RF-MEMS devices and their optimization against market requirements.

Jacopo Iannacci authored and co-authored numerous scientific contributions for international journals and conference proceedings, as well as books and several book chapters in the field of MEMS and RF-MEMS technology.


RF-MEMS, i.e. MicroElectroMechanical-Systems for Radio Frequency applications, have been around for about two decades. Across fluctuating expectations on their market employment, RF-MEMS consolidated as a valuable technology to develop high-performance and widely reconfigurable passive components, like ohmic/capacitive micro-relays, variable capacitors/inductors, as well as complex devices, like tunable filters, high-order switching matrices, reconfigurable phase shifters, programmable step attenuators, impedance matching tuners, and so on.

In recent years, the first successful exploitations of RF-MEMS technology in the consumer electronics market segment, and in particular in mobile handsets and smartphones, started to appear on the landscape. However, the development of RF-MEMS complying with certain specifications is not a simple task. First, RF-MEMS are multi-physical devices. Therefore, RF and electromagnetic performance must be optimized along with mechanical and electromechanical characteristics, always leading to multiple trade-offs. Moreover, additional issues concerning reliability, packaging and integration of such devices have to be carefully handled, as well.

The target of this tutorial is to provide an overview on the tangled scenario of RF-MEMS devices development, stepping, with a rather practical approach, across the most relevant phases of the prototyping chain, starting from the initial idea, moving to the modelling, simulation, design definition, manufacturing and experimental testing/validation of physical prototypes.